Walking down the beach on the Island of Ometepe last week I asked Rich a question and his answer made me laugh out loud:
The sun was setting
The volcano was covered in mist as if someone had gently tucked it in a blanket.
Our bare feet leaving prints on the black volcanic sand.
It seemed (to me anyway) to be the perfect moment to set an intention for this next phase of our life together. We had already enjoyed many long, languid afternoons dreaming and talking about where we are headed. So I asked: “Is there anything else you desire? Or a goal you want to name?”
To which he replied: “I am just really enjoying this moment: the movement of the lake, the mist, us together, all of it.”
I looked out over the waves and felt the laughter bubble out of me thinking “Of course, my sweets — this is why we are together!”
In any love affair there are a multitude of parts to play: sometimes one is the dreamer, one is the doer. One the artist and the other the checkbook. Or one the life coach and the other the data guru. I don’t think that these roles are bad in and of themselves as long as you stay nimble and don’t get wedged in only one spot. It is good to take turns playing all the parts. And truthfully the roles we play in a partnership usually reflect the voices and human aspects we carry inside our one self.
But what Rich reminded me on the beach in his turn of being the mindfulness teacher is the power of wordlessness.
As Martha Beck explains in
Finding Your Way in a Wild New World, wordlessness is the process of shifting your attention from the verbal part of the brain (which processes about forty bits of information per second) to the more creative, intuitive, and sensory brain regions which, you guessed it, process a lot more. (About eleven million bits per second, to be precise.)
What is so important about wordlessness? It is simply a deeper layer of our consciousness. It is what the mystics call “non-dual seeing” — because once we have words as our filter the sunset is no longer a cluster of felt sensations in our body but instead a bundle of labels: “orange” “streaked” “ohmygodIhavetoshareonInstagram.” And with the labels comes the impulse to classify experiences in a simplistic way: good, bad, up or down. We lose the taste, texture and depth of what is happening right now.
Dropping into the more spacious perspective is important not only because it feels really good but also because our decisions and conversations stemming from this depth are infinitely more powerful. It is like a super vitamin for the dreams and new life you have growing within. For most of us (perhaps the Dalai Lama as an exception) we toggle in and out of these states or perspectives. On the on hand we need and love our words. And there are definitely times to use them and even write down goals as part of the process of making them real.
But the verbal part of our brain is a good servant, not a good master. And we need to soak up lots of nutrients in that open state sans words before we try to make anything real. A lot of women are creating out of empty, which I know from experience, hurts. It is like eating yourself on the inside to create your life on the outside.
This topic has been coming up often this week with women in my coaching programs and it is such a powerful one: so many people are living whole lives based on pretending to know what they want.
It takes courage to drop into these depths and let yourself really listen. Honestly not many people do it unless forced by illness or challenge to such a place. And not only to listen but to trust that this time of non-doing, non-wording is actually deeply productive in creating what is next. A mini sabbatical for your brain.
Yet it can be so lovely, especially in the summer, to let ourselves move through that inevitable static which comes up when we slow down (you know voices that get louder on vacation either with the self-critique or impulse to stay busy.) But after the detox comes the quiet. Rest there and see what it whispers.
The last two weeks since we moved to Nicaragua I’ve been short on words and awash in Peace Corps memories and new experiences and exploring options and really good food.
So as I ease back into my writing rhythm I mostly just want to share this invitation: what experiences are opening you to wordlessness?
When and where this summer can you most easily tap into that creative and intuitive part of your brain?
PS Do you feel like you could use some help calming down the inner static? Or maybe you hear some new desires bubbling but it feels overwhelming to figure out how even to get started? I offer complementary Discovery Sessions — a chance for you to air out your mind, get a taste of coaching, and answer any questions you have about my FLOURISH program and upcoming retreat. I love these light-hearted, no obligation calls: they are fun and women report feeling relief and clarity after we talk. None of us are made to figure this life out all by ourselves! Whether you are a previous client considering a summer boost or new to the world of coaching, schedule your Discovery Session here and I look forward to connecting soon!
Courtney Pinkerton, M.Div & M.PP, is a holistic life coach and the founder of Bird in Hand Coaching. She holds dual masters degrees from Harvard Divinity School and Harvard Kennedy School and is the creator of the 8 step FLOURISH Coaching program. Courtney loves hosting retreats for women in nature and beauty-drenched locales, her next one will be held in Granada, Nicaragua October 20-23rd. In live events and through her coaching Courtney helps busy women unlock their greatest gifts and thrive in their personal lives. This summer she moved to Nicaragua with her husband Richard Amory and their three children where together they are exploring volcanic islands, colonial cities, and area beaches to find their perfect spot to land. Interested to learn more about her FLOURISH coaching program or upcoming retreat? You can schedule your complimentary discovery session here.
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